Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And I don’t understand how this guy, today’s guest, got to so much revenue. I would never have guessed that there was this much money in the business, but there is and I invited him here to find out how he did it.
Today’s guest is a Mixergy listener. His name is Michael Rader. He’s the founder of Brandroot, which . . . Let me pronounce that better. Brandroot, which helps entrepreneurs name their company service or product.
Here’s the deal. You know when you start a business, you have to come up with a name for your company, and then once you come up with the name, you have to find a logo, and you want it to kind of feel right. You want to make sure that you also have the domain for it. Well, what Michael said is, “I’m just going to package the whole thing together. Come to my website, you’re going to have this whole marketplace full of names.” And when you look at them, they’re not going to look like these just text on a page names. You’re going to see the logos that go along with it. You get a sense of the impression is going to make on someone who sees it for the first time and if you decide to buy it, you’re going to get the name, you’re going to get the logo, and you’re going to get the domain all at once. That’s how he presents his business.
And I can’t believe that there’s this much revenue in it. I wanted to invite him here to talk about how he did it. This interview is sponsored by two companies. The first will host your website right. It’s called HostGator. And the second will help you hire your next phenomenal developer. Oh, I heard, Michael, you had trouble with your developers. Anyway, the company name is Toptal. I’ll talk about both those later.
Michael, revenue for 2017. What was it?
Michael: It was just a little over $1 million.
Andrew: A little over a million. And then over the last 12 months, where would you say you guys are?
Michael: Last 12 months?
Andrew: Yeah. Or how about, you know what, the first half of this year, 2018?
Michael: By the end of this month, it’ll be at $1 million.
Andrew: Okay. So that means that about halfway through the year you already hit $1 million, so you’re on track to do $2 million for this year. Is that right?
Michael: Right. Yeah, the second half of the year tends to see better sales for whatever reason.
Andrew: So here’s the thing that I don’t get. I’m on your site and been on your site. I’m looking at Brandroot. A lot of the domains and logos here sell for low thousands of dollars, like Vorvo, vorvo.com, I get a nice looking domain with it. I get the logo and all that. $2,750. This seems like a typical price on your site. Am I right?
Michael: Yeah, that’s about the average price around 2 to $3,000.
Andrew: And then the other thing is that once I get a domain and a logo and the whole thing is up and running, do I really need to come back and buy another one from you? So you don’t get repeat business from me?
Michael: I actually do get a lot of repeat customers.
Andrew: You do.
Michael: Yeah. There are entrepreneurs that are starting ideas quickly. That’s kind of what Brandroot is for. It’s for those that just want to kind of plug and play, launch now, iterate later. They just come buy their name and launch their MVP like as quickly as possible and that’s where they get the value out of our site.
Andrew: And then if that one doesn’t work, that MVP is closed down, and they come buy another one.
Michael: Right, yeah.
Andrew: And when you say that you do about a million in the first half of this year, does that include the money you pay out to the people who list their domains on your site?
Michael: That does include it. So we collect about 30% commission on every sale unless it’s our domain. So we own our own domains that we list, and then we also are a marketplace, so we sell for other people. So we’re brokering service.
Andrew: From what I remember, it’s 30%, right? If I sell a domain and a brand on your site for $1,000, you get $300 of that.
Andrew: Okay. What percentage of the revenue would you say is from domains that you guys own, Michael, versus other people who are listing on your marketplace?
Michael: Some months it’s 50/50, where 50% of the sales are actually Brandroot sales and 50% are the sellers, but most often it’s the sellers who are making a lot more than Brandroot. Very rarely is it like split down the middle and so . . .
Andrew: It tends to be more the sellers who are making more revenue than you guys.
Andrew: I talked to you before we got started and you told me you worked at the DMV. Dude, how do you end up at the DMV, a guy who’s got so much like design skills, who’s got such entrepreneurial spirit?
Michael: I was just trying to get whatever I could, and the DMV was a really good paying job compared to most jobs. And I worked at the post office. I was in the Marine Corps. So I had a really good history to land that job pretty easily with a state. I was well trusted you could say. It just didn’t work out.
Andrew: You were buying and selling stuff while you were working at the DMV. What were you doing online back then?
Michael: Yeah. That’s kind of when I got into domaining. I was a developer, so I owned a lot of domain names and I was trying to find avenues of selling my domain names and eBay was one of them that came up and I saw these people selling their domains and they were putting logos with them. So I threw a few on there and I sold them. A lot of them I lost money on, but a few I would buy for $8 to $10. I put a logo together and sell it for $250.
Andrew: So you weren’t just buying a cool name and selling it. You always package a logo with it?
Michael: Yeah, pretty much from the start I was packaging logos with my domains because I was a designer. Rhat’s how I started. I started as a designer and then . . .
Andrew: And did you come up with that? So a lot of us, I remember I liked the name “Tripify”. I said, “You know what? That could be a good one. I’ll buy it. It’s what? $10 a month? Give or take a few bucks, right? $10 a month, I’ll buy it. At some point, I might do something with it or be worth something.” Then I kind of sat on it and didn’t do anything, and then a Mixergy fan said to me, “Hey, Andrew, can I use it?” I said, “Use it as long as you like.” I even . . . I said, “Look, I might . . . Yeah, you could have it.” And if I die, I made sure that my brother and my wife knew that this guy should just get the domain if I’m dead.
But that’s the most creative thing I did with it. There was no real revenue in it. How much is someone going to pay for “Tripify” domain? Like $1,000. So I didn’t think to go and sell the logo with it. Where did you get the idea that you’re going to package it as a logo? Where’d you get the idea that you’re actually going to get someone to buy it for more than the domain was worth?
Michael: I mean, it was eBay. Like people were already doing it there.
Andrew: You are looking at eBay and saw that people were selling these packages of design and domain.
Michael: Yeah. They would present it with a really ugly logo most times. And most times it was just a nice font, 3D font that they threw together on the eBay listing, so it looked like a logo. I was like, “I can make my logos much better and actually sell it almost like a brand [inaudible 00:06:25]
Andrew: Because for them to just sell the name as just text on a white page would look kind of lame and to see what it is, they decided they were going to make it into a little bit of a logo.
Michael: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: Okay. Do you remember actually being at the DMV making sales?
Michael: I do. I remember like looking under my desk monitoring eBay auctions at the last minute of the auction and had to go to my friends and like run up to him and be like excited like, “Look at this thing. I just sold it at $250 just sitting here.” Like, yeah, it was pretty exciting. And I knew there’s a business model when I started making money that way.
Andrew: So I read an old article on, what is this, topleveldomaininvestors.com, tldinvestors.com. Maybe it was a different site, actually. I take it back. Dnjournal.com. I’ve heard so much about you from the old days. From 2013 where you said, “This was working until it stopped.” Basically, what happened?
Michael: Until eBay, you mean?
Andrew: Yeah. It feels to me like what happened to you is what happened to a lot of domainers. They bought a bunch of domains thinking they’re going to sell it. They end up with a bunch of inventory, and it’s really hard to move most of these things, right?
Michael: Right, yeah. It just wasn’t working. It didn’t make sense. I was buying too many domains and selling too few and most of them I said, like, at a loss. So I wasn’t making money. It just wasn’t working out. And then I moved over to developing my own platform, went through a number of names, and then DN Journal picked me up which was awesome, that like . . .
Andrew: So what you said was, “I can’t keep selling on eBay. I’m going to sell on my own site”? If you can’t sell on eBay, why would selling on your own site be any better? eBay at least has a marketplace of people.
Michael: I did stumble on a site that was using that business model of designing their domain names and posting them for sale. So it wasn’t just eBay that was doing it. And when I stumbled upon this site, they were asking a premium price a lot more than eBay was and they weren’t at auction. It was a BIN price, buy-it-now price. And I was . . .
Andrew: It was a marketplace.
Michael: Right, it was a marketplace and I actually moved there first. I started . . .
Andrew: You started selling your stuff on their marketplace?
Andrew: And you said, “This is not working that well. They don’t have anything that great. I can do better than this.”
Michael: Exactly. They were selling domains for me, but I was so unhappy with their service, just so frustrated with it even though it was making money. It was almost supporting me at the time. I sold one big name on a marketplace for $10,000 and I remember like just telling them, “Okay, remove everything off your site. I’m using this as my seed money,” and started my own website.
Andrew: It was for how much?
Michael: Well, I sold the domain for $10,000 at that site.
Andrew: Oh, got it. Got it. So you end up with now a little bit of money and you say, “I’m going to go and start my own business.” And when you say start your own business, what would you get to keep back then? $5,000, $7,000 from that sale?
Michael: Yeah, something like that. I think actually I did collect close to $10,000. That was my take home.
Andrew: Oh, got it. This is after their fees.
Michael: Yeah, after their commission I took $10,000.
Andrew: Do you even remember what that domain was?
Michael: What was it? I think it might have been Aon [SP].
Michael: I think is yiva.com, Y-I-V-A.com.
Andrew: Who even knew that this was a whole thing online that you could go and sell a domain with the logo and everything and make money on it?
Michael: Yeah, it’s a pretty good business model. I mean, and it provides for like the startup community which I absolutely enjoy. I love being like right there in the startup ecosystem. Just kind of [inaudible 00:09:57]. I’m like in this hub for startups, I feel like and I just absolutely enjoy it. Seeing what people are doing with their domains and seeing just like new ideas being sparked just through looking at my website.
Andrew: Okay. So, as I understand it, what happened was you now are selling it and say, “I’m going to start my own business.”
Andrew: You can, by the way, drink on camera. What are you drinking?
Michael: Oh, just some cold brew. [inaudible 00:10:24]
Andrew: Okay. I thought maybe you were a shake guy and you had a special thing.
Michael: Oh, no.
Andrew: A long time ago, I heard that Howard Stern was drinking hot water. And I was a kid listening to Howard Stern, I said, “Let me just try hot water, and no tea, no nothing.” And it actually worked for me. Just plain old hot water. So I have a carafe of hot water here. This is my weirdo thing.
Andrew: And I remember reading that other people are into it, like Steve Jobs in the Steve job bio. What’s the one that he authorized? I forget the name. But he apparently realized, “I don’t need to put tea in my hot water. I’m just going to go for it.”
Michael: That’s interesting. I’m going to try that.
Andrew: All right. So you now put together your own, well, not your site yet, because you still have to come up with a brand for it. And I heard some of the names that you came up with. Can you remember them?
Michael: Yeah. So the first one . . . And I actually had a partner at the time. I think right as I started, I was in the Marine Corps Reserve, so I was in the reserve and I was at the DMV and I pulled in this partner in the Marines who was a finance guy. And I think we came up with the name, Bernard & Key. That was the very first name. And it was . . .
Andrew: Why did you come up with that?
Michael: I wanted . . . It’s similar to like why you use yours. I think it was . . . What was . . . Brad . . . I don’t know.
Andrew: Bradford & Reed back when I started my first greeting card company, because I knew that when someone would pick up the phone and hear Bradford & Reed they’d take me seriously.
Michael: Right, and that’s exactly why I chose Bernard & Key. It was completely made up. I don’t know why it had a nice little sound to it, Bernard & Key, and I wanted to have a firm sound like a naming firm. Not just . . .
Michael: Yeah. I was kind of playing off a lawyer’s firm, but . . .
Andrew: Did you hear at the time that I did that, or this was just two people thinking the same way?
Michael: No. Yeah. I had no idea. I didn’t know about you until fairly recently. Yeah.
Andrew: So what other domains did you come up with? Or what other names, excuse me, for your business did you come up with?
Michael: Oh, so, after that, it was just too complicated because we were using the ampersand as the Bernard & Key, and I didn’t want to type in bernardandkey.com, so I shortened it to bernard.com. Paid I think $2,000 for that. And it just wasn’t working out. I wanted the domain name to obviously match my business name, which I suggest for any startup. So we moved on to something a little more lighthearted, and that was brandboodle.com.
Michael: Just like an opposite direction of Bernard & Key. I was like . . . I don’t know. I was just all over the place. So I wasn’t making money under the [inaudible 00:12:47] so I went to, yeah, brandboodle.com. That was the old name.
Andrew: All right. That one didn’t work. How long actually did you keep that one up?
Michael: Not too long at all. I think also because the designer and web developer I had at the time just did a horrible job. I failed and I decided to just completely rebrand again.
Andrew: So Brandroot. I like the name Brandroot a lot.
Andrew: Especially considering, first of all, you’re selling brands and second is like the root of the business, that origination point and it’s easy to spell. I’m a horrible speller, so I get it. So our producer asked you before we started, “What did the first version of the website look like?” You are a designer. We thought that everything would look really good and polished, especially since you’re selling brands, and you said, I’m going to quote, “It was a pile of garbage.” Why? What do you mean?
Michael: I just remember being very ugly and I guess I just I grew as a designer too through the iterations of my website. Just like putting it up and seeing it and . . . I don’t know. I was just so, I don’t know, just put off by it. I don’t know . . .
Andrew: You know what? It seems like it’s largely a WordPress theme, right?
Michael: No. We never used WordPress.
Andrew: You didn’t? This looks like a WordPress theme, what I’m looking at. What do you use? What platform?
Michael: It’s actually Joomla.
Andrew: Oh, Joomla, even worse.
Andrew: Yeah. Actually, I take it back. This is more like a Joomla theme.
Michael: Right. And that’s definitely not a theme what you’re looking at, though. That was all . . .
Andrew: It’s not?
Michael: No. I customized and designed that entire site myself.
Andrew: Why do you use Joomla?
Michael: Joomla at the time was much more robust than . . .
Andrew: Why would . . . I used to ask people why they built their businesses on Joomla. They always answered it in a way that I never understood the answer for and I couldn’t get to the real answer.
Michael: I mean, the capabilities of Joomla far . . .
Andrew: Like what? Do you remember something that you needed to do? I’m looking at your site. It’s basically just a collection of listings.
Michael: Right. But I don’t think . . . You don’t see the backend where there are sellers that can . . . There’s a huge process of listing your domain name and it moves to the logo designers and has to all be approved on our backend . . .
Andrew: Oh, that whole workflow is part of Joomla.
Michael: Right, everything is all plugged into Joomla.
Andrew: So somebody would come in and say, “I have this domain to list and I don’t have a design, but I need a design for a logo from you.” That would go from the form to the designer to the website and so on.
Michael: Right, yeah. So our sellers log in to our site. I mean, they have a design site, but on our backend, it’s all Joomla that’s managing that entire process.
Andrew: Okay. All right. So you had it up and running. I like how right from beginning you had a phone number [inaudible 00:15:20] we brand. That one must have cost you a little bit too.
Michael: Oh, no. That was available at Ring Center at the time.
Andrew: Really? For free.
Andrew: And why did you make that face when I said the phone number?
Michael: Because I just changed it. I had to change it to a local number, a Dallas number because I want to enable texting and which has been working out pretty well. People now text me and I’ve closed sales through text. I can do that on the go and stuff.
Andrew: All right. So people will see a phone number, and they’ll immediately know to text you instead of call it.
Michael: You can actually call our number and it says to get a faster response text this number and then also on our site, you can hover over the number and there’s an option to call or text.
Andrew: Got it. Okay. All right. Before we continue from there, let me talk about my first sponsor. It’s a company that you have used before. It’s called HostGator for hosting websites. You know what? I’m going to ask you a question. Have you had somebody come to your website and do nothing but just buy a brand, buy the domain and put up a WordPress site and take off or have an interesting story after that?
Michael: I’m sorry. Can you repeat that one more time?
Andrew: I’m saying, have you had an experience where someone just bought a domain and a brand and did nothing but put it on a WordPress site but that thing worked out well for them?
Michael: I wouldn’t know what platform they were using, and I don’t follow up too much on the names we sell. We sell quite a bit of them. And it also like just track what people are using the domains for. Well, yeah, of course. I mean, I do the same thing. I’ll just throw up a WordPress site and get it served somewhere.
Andrew: Like what? What would you throw up a WordPress site for?
Michael: Different ideas I have, a blog I have, a private blog I author and just some little minor ideas will throw, like coolbusinessnames.com, that was a super side thing I was doing and I just used it to promote Brandroot. And that was a WordPress site.
Andrew: That’s a great idea, right? So you just want to highlight some domains from your site and you fire up a quick website, put it up on WordPress. It doesn’t take you a long time to do it, and boom. Got it.
Andrew: You know what I heard someone do? I shouldn’t say this in an ad. But I forget what it was. But it was something like . . . Oh, it was shittylistings or something like that .com. They had a housing listing service and they decided they were going to build a whole website just showing all the crappy listings on their website. Boom. You have an idea, you put it up.
That’s what I like about HostGator’s, not their hatchling plan, but their unlimited domain plan, because with the unlimited domain plan, you could just come up with the domain name, cost you pennies or dollars, actually I should say to buy it, you install WordPress on it and fire it up and you see if it works out. So you decide, “You know what? I’m going to put a bunch of cool business names up.” Boom. Fire up WordPress site. You decide you’re going to pick the worst names out there, maybe not your clients, but the worst names on the internet that have still taken off, boom, take off. All you have to do is . . . And it doesn’t even have to be the big success story. It’s just another thing for people to look at, another thing for them to pass around, another thing for search results to show up.
Anyone out there who is listening to the sound of my voice who comes up with ideas a lot and doesn’t take action on them, you should check out HostGator. They’re going to make it so easy that with one click, you’re going to be able to install WordPress. Once you get it up and running, you can’t help but build on it. It’s like if I give you a piece of paper and a pen, you’re not going to stop yourself from just fiddling with it and drawing on it and sketching on it.
And if you have a hosting company that you don’t like, take it over to HostGator. If you use a special URL I’m about to give you, honestly, the number one thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to give me credit for referring you. The number two thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to get 60% off of their already low prices. And frankly, the price . . . I wonder if even on their homepage they might even give that discount. Let me take a look. Yeah. It’s not that far off. So the number one thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to be tagged as a Mixergy listener and you’re going to be supporting this podcast. So go to hostgator.com/mixergy. Should I be admitting that? Probably not, Michael. It’s great.
All right. On to . . . You know, before I worked with you, before we officially hit record on this episode, I said, “Look, whatever I say, just goes in there. You have to feel comfortable with me saying whatever.” We do the same thing with sponsors. We say, “Look, I know you’re paying for Andrew to talk about you, but guess what? If he doesn’t like it, if he wants to talk about something else, he’s going to be able to do it. We can’t control it and we’re not going to give you a refund.” And most advertisers are game and [inaudible 00:19:34], do what you think is best. And then they actually end up being really excited about working with Sachit because Sachit pushes back on them in a really good way. Like the guy who sells ads, he’ll say, “I know you want to Andrew to edit out that ad, but we can’t do it. He’s got the touch.”
All right. You got your website up, you got your domain, you don’t love the look of it, but it’s up and running. How do you even get people to come to it? What was your thing?
Michael: A lot of SEO. Like, initially, it was just my SEO just trying to satisfy Google with proper title tags and descriptions.
Andrew: We’re talking about just five years ago, 2013, right?
Michael: Right. Yeah.
Andrew: And this is tags on each domain?
Michael: Yeah. Each domain has its own tag. Of course, that’s all kind of generated by the website once it’s uploaded. I mean, the seller puts it in and the title tag gets generated and so does the description and so forth.
Andrew: I’m on archive.org to look up your old domain. I clicked on one of the brands on here. What is it called? It’s yipari.com [SP] for $2,020 I could get it. I looked at the URL, it’s brandroot.com/brand/payments/105. Where’s the . . . I don’t see the URL structure that you’re talking about, or am I looking at an early version of it?
Michael: Yeah, you’re probably looking at early version. Now it’s way more simplified. Like I said, that was me back in the day trying to do SEO.
Michael: Now we hire people. I mean, you get quite a bit to get everything looking good.
Andrew: When you did it, what worked out well for you when you were doing it?
Michael: At the time?
Andrew: Yeah. Fairly early days.
Michael: Just keeping a text simple. I think Google likes almost seven-year-old texts, like that a seven-year-old could read it and understand it. Like to be very basic, very clear, short, uncomplicated sentences. Yeah, and I would just try to use that. I mean, that was a bad example that URL you gave, but I would try to match the URL to the title tags and h1 tags and page.
Andrew: You know what else you did? You had things like . . . You added some content to it. So it wasn’t just the image and the name and the domain name. You would say things like, here’s one, “iniz”, an Italian word meaning to start similar to initiate. And then there’s qualities and appeal. It’s a four-letter domain, fresh name, flexible application, etc. You’re trying to write a little bit of content around each one of them. Am I right?
Michael: Right. Yeah. We have writers that see the name after the logo designer so they can just come up with some beautiful description to help it connect with the browser.
Andrew: Okay. So SEO is doing well for you in the beginning. Were you creating images for everyone, logo for every one of your domains?
Michael: I was initially, yes. That’s when I started. It was just all my domains. It was all my design work. It was extremely grueling, but it did pay off. I was making enough to survive from month to month. It was pretty . . .
Andrew: How much did it take for you to survive in the early days? How much money are we talking about?
Michael: I lived in San Diego and I was just renting rooms from people. So it was like $500 rent at the time just renting a room from an apartment. So I didn’t need much, but I was probably making, I don’t know, maybe $2,000 to $3,000 a month off the website.
Andrew: Just enough to live.
Michael: Yeah. But basically, all that money would go back into the website to help grow it, and I would just take what I needed from the business. I wasn’t actually writing myself a check at the time.
Andrew: So I saw . . . It seemed like you were trying to figure out your model and how to bring other people in. You experimented with $75 listing, $0 listings, 30% commission, right?
Michael: Yeah. You mean it for the sellers?
Andrew: Yeah. You were trying to figure out, “I’m starting out with my own stuff, but how do I get other people on here? What’s the right pricing model?”
Michael: Yeah, that was challenging only because I was also small at the time, much smaller than other marketplaces too that were like mine. So, yeah, I would offer free listings, lower commissions to people that had really large portfolios. I’d build a rapport with these people too. I tried to like really like motivate them to be part of something that I like truly believed in that I would grow. [inaudible 00:23:41]
Andrew: And what did you do to do that?
Michael: Just to develop relationships with people. I mean, one, I still have a pretty close relationship with Garry [SP] and one of my top sellers today. And I’ve never even met the guy but we still, we chat . . .
Andrew: What was your thing to . . . You just chat with him, how? Sorry.
Michael: I would just be very just friendly, open and just tell him how things were, just like, “We need your portfolio to help grow our company. It would be very exciting if you came on. We’d give you this or that as incentives.” I even promised some people that I’d pay their renewal fees if they weren’t selling enough domains.
Andrew: Meaning your site’s renewal fees?
Michael: No, their domain renewal fees instead of . . . And you have to renew domain every year.
Andrew: That’s like $10 a month, right? But it shows that you care and you could turn it . . .
Michael: Yeah, exactly. It was a small thing, but I just did whatever I could to help build up my marketplace.
Andrew: You know what else? There are a couple of other things that I noticed. I went back even like till the early days of your site it seemed like every domain that was listed on your site also had your branding on in search results. Like here’s an example. Trendez.com, if I search for it back in, I don’t know how long ago it was that you had it, it would say, “Brandez is for sale on brandroot.com!” And then it says, “Own this name and so on.” So every one of them was helping you drive traffic to your business.
Michael: Yeah. And our sales, we get about like maybe 8% sales from that direct traffic. So people actually typing in the domain and they go into our website. It’s a very low number. But, yeah, that’s one way that helps us sell our products.
Andrew: Got it. Every one of these domains is another opportunity for someone to just type in a search or a domain looking to see what’s there and then potentially buy it from you.
Andrew: And it looks like at this point, you guys don’t even . . . Do you put the price up on there? Yeah, you do. You use . . . It says prices.
Michael: Yeah, no worry.
Andrew: And another thing was you went after some press, like that article that I mentioned. It’s really positive about you, there’s no challenge in there, and it’s just talking about an entrepreneur with an idea for a business that you might want to be a part of, right?
Michael: Was this the DN form one?
Andrew: This is, yeah, dnjournal.com from 2013.
Michael: Yeah, DN Journal. Yeah, I wanted to advertise on that guy’s website to help attract more sellers to my website because he essentially attracts domain sellers, domainers to . . .
Andrew: Ron Jackson. Was this an ad?
Michael: No, that was not an ad. But I sought him out to buy ads, and he got turned on to my business model and really liked it and decide to write about it, which was awesome.
Andrew: Got it.
Andrew: What’s your process for working people, for building those relationships remotely? Be open with me.
Michael: Yeah, I’ll be open. I mean, I don’t feel like I work people.
Andrew: Yeah. You know what? As soon as I said the word “work people” I said, “Oh, that’s going to come off wrong.” Like some of us are good at doing and others are not. What’s your way?
Michael: I’m not that great at it. I mean, just recently too, like I was emailing Seth Godin, the branding guy and I put him off pretty fast. Like, I guess I requested too much from him and he’s just like, “I don’t know how to end these conversations. I can’t talk anymore.”
Andrew: And he explicitly said that? “I don’t know how to end this conversation.”
Michael: Yeah, he explicitly said that. I kind of ruined it. Like, we were trying to make an agreement on something and I just was . . . I went too far. So I’m not . . .
Andrew: What were you offering to do?
Michael: I asked him to be . . . I want to launch a podcast, eventually, called Branding HQ. And I was asking him to help me launch it with the first episode. He said, “No.” And then I said, “Well, what if I pay you to do this?” And he said, “Okay. If you do this . . . ” I don’t know if I want to say exactly what it was.
Andrew: Right, right.
Michael: But it was just basically paying him in some way.
Andrew: Okay. But then it was becoming way too involved.
Michael: Yeah, for him. It was just like, “No, never mind. I’m backing out of this. I’m backing off.” But, no.
Andrew: You know what? So I felt really comfortable with you right from the start, but I felt like even before we got started, you are not super comfortable talking to me.
Michael: Just because I’ve never done this sort of thing, video chat.
Andrew: Is that what it is?
Michael: Yeah, that’s what it is. I mean, yeah, it has nothing to do with you. Personally, I was extremely nervous going into this. I was over here doing pull-ups, getting my body ready, but . . .
Andrew: That’s a good move.
Andrew: You know what? Maybe we should talk a little bit about your personal life. You’re a guy who grew up in Dallas, Texas. You told our producer, like, “I was pretty poor back then. I don’t know that there’s much of an entrepreneurial story then.” But something that came out is in his notes that I want to bring up. Your dad left you and your five siblings. First of all, you have five siblings. Your dad left you, all six of you. When?
Michael: When I . . . In Texas when I was probably around, I think 14.
Andrew: Why do you think he did that?
Michael: It was just the relationship between him and my mom were just falling apart. My mom was pursuing other things, kind of neglecting him and he was neglecting her and he just gave up. And this was a second marriage too and he went on to pursue a third one. So, I mean, he was just . . . I don’t know, just total douche bag at the time. I don’t know what to say.
Andrew: And he said, “Look, she’s going to handle it. She’s got her way. I’m just going to let her do it.”
Michael: Yeah. He just took off. I mean, he just completely put all the responsibility on her. She had no job. None of us had jobs. We were all kind of in school, still high school, junior high and stuff. So he left us completely broke. He didn’t pay a dime in child support. He avoided child support his entire life. He recently died actually, just a couple weeks or about a month ago, but . . .
Andrew: Did you ever get back together with him?
Michael: I definitely had nothing against him. I feel like . . .
Andrew: Really? You never like as a 15-year-old said, “Damn it. If my dad was here, this wouldn’t happen to me. Damn it. What’s wrong with my dad?”
Michael: Yeah. I’m sure stuff like that came up, and I did express anger to him at times throughout my life, like through phone calls and stuff. But over time, that resentment disappeared and I had nothing against him.
Andrew: How about, “I’ve got to show you, dad. I’ve got to show you that I could make it. I’ve got to show you that you were wrong to drop me.”?
Michael: Yeah. Maybe that’s part of my passion.
Andrew: Do you feel like? I mean, honestly.
Michael: I mean, I don’t feel like it is just because . . . My dad was also an initial investor in Brandroot too. He was the first like on Facebook on Brandroot.
Michael: Yeah. So he supported me too like in the later days, and he regretted doing what he did. He apologized profusely and stuff. So, I mean, I forgave him, we moved on, and he became a great just kind of friend of my life that we just kind of shared and bonded.
Andrew: All right. Did you feel any, like, “I want to make him proud then. I want to show him what I’m doing here that he was right to put the first money into this business.”?
Michael: I don’t know if I . . .
Andrew: That’s not what motivates you.
Michael: Yeah. I don’t think that was a clear motivation, but it sure did feel good when I texted my dad like, “Hey, I saw one of your names,” and he was really excited because he was living pretty poor too. I mean, he was really excited to get like $800 here and there for me for selling a domain on my website.
Andrew: The thing that did motivate you though was you said, “Look, I don’t ever want to be that poor again. I don’t want that lifestyle again.” That’s why you ended up in San Diego. That’s why you started pushing yourself.
Michael: Yeah, I left before I even graduated high school. I just left that small town outside of Dallas and lived with my aunt and pursued art school. From there, I just learned design and web development and just moved forward from there. But yeah, being poor was definitely a motivating factor. I mean, we would go without water and heat sometimes in very cold winters. I mean, sometimes it was pretty hard. Like, we’d have to go to the bathroom outside our house.
Andrew: And did you know that other people don’t live that way, or do you feel like, “All right, this is everyday life. This is how we do things”?
Michael: No. Of course, I knew other people didn’t live that way. I have friends that were very well off in school.
Andrew: Really? And were you then embarrassed in comparison?
Michael: I would never have them around, and we never appeared poor or anything. We would still dress nice, and we still had clothes and stuff like that. I mean, I don’t think we ever appeared like a poor family. It was more like something happened after school. You know?
Andrew: I had a period of my life where I was suddenly in deep debt and I said, “Just hold on to this emotion. Remember how badly this feels. The next time there’s an opportunity to do anything like . . . ” I don’t know. All right. Here’s an example. When we finally moved back to the U.S., in the U.S., they have doggie bags, so the ones that pick up the dog poop in some buildings and our building had it. But I’d have to go through the back door to get that. I already bought my own doggie bags to pick up my poop. It was already attached to the leash.
I say, “What the fucking guy? You better go to the back and use their bag. If they’re offering the bag as part of this building, you go use that even though it’s like two cents per bag, you’re always going to appreciate money. You’re never going to get to a point where you forget that this matters because when you’re deep in debt, every little bit of matters, and you’re not going to like go out and forget that that’s a part of life.”
Michael: Yeah, that’s good.
Andrew: That’s a huge one.
Michael: Yeah. Yeah, I found myself in debt many times, especially with my business like 20 to $50,000 in debt, credit card debt.
Andrew: When? When did you get back with Brandroot in debt?
Michael: When did I get out of it?
Andrew: When did you get into debt with Brandroot? It seemed like things were going well.
Michael: They were going okay, but I still invested quite a bit of money. Like, credit cards trusted me because I had a really good credit score too and I had a student loans that I paid off fairly quickly that helped my score and I had like $20,000 in credit cards available to me. I would still use them to market my name and still keep the cash. I was just irresponsible. I mean, even though Brandroot might have been well off, I wasn’t very a well off person.
Andrew: So what were you doing then that was irresponsible?
Michael: Spending the money like unwisely, like not saving at all.
Andrew: On what?
Michael: Maybe traveling or just going out, spending the money. I don’t know.
Andrew: Feeling like things are going well. I could afford to live it up, but in reality you can’t.
Michael: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: All right. You know what? Let me take a moment to talk about my second sponsor because it kind of connects into this. Second sponsor is a company called Toptal. I’ve talked forever about how Toptal is the best place to get developers. This is exactly why I went to Toptal and I hired a finance person from them. They have a whole department around getting finance people in. And here’s my routine with them. Jack and I now have an ongoing like every three to four weeks scheduled call where we spend an hour talking about the finances of the business. And it’s like, he’s an outside advisor who has a deep care for the business because we have an ongoing relationship and because he can’t help himself.
And what we do is we go over the books. As the bookkeeper puts them together, we say, “Is this the right bookkeeping company for me to use? Should we try another one?” And then he’ll spend time in between calls, looking for alternatives. “Is this the right credit card processor? Should we look for another one? How about if you negotiate and I negotiate, we see what we can come up with? How do we manage a team because it turns out that software really is not significant expenses, but if you look at my expenses, it’s people that are expensive? And so how do you manage people in a way that you’re aware of how much time they spend on what so that it actually all leads to profitability?”
These are questions that I wouldn’t ask myself if I didn’t think to. And if I did ask myself, I would probably come up with the wrong answer, like, “Let’s make everyone keep track of their time, so we know where the time is going.” And the reason I say it in such a silly way is smart, creative people don’t want to keep track of their time. The freedom to create is what makes them so good, so how do you still allow them to do that?
Well, the thing about Jack is he’s a guy who worked for a management consultant company, one of the biggest ones. He’d worked with many companies as that management consultant. And so he saw how to do that. How do bigger companies do it? How do smaller companies do it? And he comes back to me and he gives me advice on it.
So, frankly, I think you guys should go with Toptal. If you, Michael or anyone else listening to me, decides, go to Toptal. Andrew is talking about them, there’s a vested interest there. I’m not going to use them. Fine. Go find someone else who’s got that ability, but really, get an outside perspective. Somebody who has real business experience with a finance mindset to go over your numbers on a regular basis to add a sanity check and to help you think through your business. You’re going to uncover things that you could never do on your own.
All right. If you want to work with Toptal or, frankly, if you want to just talk to Toptal, do this, go to special URL I’m about to give you and here you do have an incredible offer. I’m going to read it directly from their website. It’s Top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, T-O-P-T-A-L.com/mixergy. When you go there, you’re going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours and that’s in addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. Just to put a fine point on it. If at the end of the trial period . . . Let me read exactly as it said. If at the end of the period you’re not 100% satisfied, you will not be billed. Start your trial right now. Go to toptal.com/mixergy.
You had some development issues. What are some of the developer issues that you had?
Michael: On some, I think, it was Elance at the time. I hired some developers on there and I just went through so many . . . I lost quite . . . That was part of my debt too. I hired bad developers. And I learned a lot through hiring bad developers on . . .
Andrew: What did you learn about hiring from that? I’ve got to tell you, I’ve never had a good result hiring from Elance. It just never worked for me.
Michael: It didn’t. Pretty much, yeah, never worked for me either.
Andrew: And I know there’s always someone who will say, “I got a great deal on this or that.” I’m not looking for a great deal when it comes to developers or for other people too. I’m looking for great result. What was it that you had?
Michael: Well, at the time, I was looking more for cheap prices and then with prices came very cheap coding like techniques. Like, I would look at the code, and because I was a novice developer, I’d be able to tell like, they’re using h1 tags for every single piece of text on the page, like stuff like that.
Andrew: Oh, at least you were smart enough as an SEO guy to know that’s just not right.
Andrew: And the reason they do that is because when they do h1 tags, there’s a style that goes along with that and they wanted the style. They wanted . . . Every time they want the big letters, they attach an h1 tag to it.
Michael: Yes. Terrible.
Andrew: How much money would you say you lost on that?
Michael:Through developers in iterations of my site?
Andrew: Bad developers in iterations, yeah.
Michael: Tens of thousands. I don’t know. Maybe like $50,000 or more.
Michael: Yeah. Initially, and even like up to today. Like, not currently but maybe last year, like, I would have instances where one of my developers would code something so off the wall crazy that it would cost me quite a bit of money.
Andrew: You know what? Dude, I’m actually on one of your early websites.
Andrew: Yeah. Brandroot, the company name, has an h1 tag, Search by Category has an h1 tag, Search by Price has an h1 tag.
Michael: Is it really?
Andrew: I see what you mean. Wow. Okay. And you published it.
Michael: Yeah, I didn’t . . .
Andrew: And as a guy who wants to do SEO, this is horrible.
Michael: Yeah, I didn’t do enough research myself before I launched that site. I just more trusted in these guys. I’m paying them money, they’ve got to be experts. I would recommend anybody out there like learn like a basic HTML just so you can look at the code of the website [inaudible 00:39:01] properly.
Andrew: All right. So you’re working with them. At what point did you finally get it right? I know you’re still struggling with it but was there a period . . . Was there something that made it finally click? Was it a hire that made it click?
Michael: Yeah. Instead of choosing lower price people, I would choose experts and pay them more, like look for the premium people . . .
Andrew: How would find them?
Michael: I currently use . . . I think Upwork is where I found my latest developer.
Andrew: Really? So, basically, these cheapo marketplaces are still leading you to get someone?
Michael: Yeah. Upwork it works out because they do . . . There are some high-end people on there, but you have to pay for them. And they would . . .
Andrew: How are you finding them on there because they’re tough to identify?
Michael: Yeah. A lot of these people just come on there to advertise their services and get you to go to their website and hire them directly. And those are actually the better ones, I mean, unfortunately.
Andrew: Oh, those are good.
Michael: Yeah. Some of them are really good. Like one guy I found helped me with my podcast, wrote the book on podcasting and called “Podcasting for Dummies.” He’s the one that I’m paying monthly to help me start my own podcast.
Andrew: So, basically, you’re on their website, someone who has a whole thing going on for themselves is messaging you there and saying, “Go check out my site, you’ll see that I know what I’m talking about,” and then you just hire them directly.
Michael: Pretty much. That’s . . .
Andrew: Got it.
Michael: That has happened a couple times, but . . .
Andrew: Wow. I always blow those types of people . . . Well, I used to when I was on them. I used to blow those people off because I thought what they were doing was advertising, like, in a way that they weren’t supposed to and I thought that there was something a little weird about it.
Michael: Yeah. I don’t really like it either, but if they offer really good service and they look like a promising individual, it’s kind of hard to pass it up, especially . . .
Andrew: Okay. So that’s what ended up working for you, following those leads and then getting together with them.
Michael: Yeah, some of them, but I also paid out thousands per month through Upwork, like using other people that are very talented there.
Andrew: Like what? What have you done on Upwork?
Michael: I still have a developer on there. I have a couple of writers on there that consistently write for me, like on my website. And also an SEO guy, I still pay through Upwork. And he’s really talented.
Andrew: How much vetting do you do when you’re hiring from there? What’s your vetting process?
Michael: I do quite a bit. First of all, yeah, I’ll make sure they’re requesting a higher amount of money than result because that’s a sign that they’re in demand. And then I’ll just look at their website, I’ll talk to them, add them on Skype, just see how knowledgeable they are and just communicating with me and stuff. I’ll do quite a bit. And then I’ll hire them do a trial for a month. And if it’s good, I’ll just keep them on.
Andrew: Okay. You ever get a PR person from there.
Michael: No, but I found a PR person on LinkedIn. They helped me get articles on like Forbes and Inc. and Entrepreneur, stuff like that.
Andrew: What do you mean? What do they do to get you in there?
Michael: They had connections and they would kind of just pitch my product to them, to other writers on those sites.
Andrew: As they found someone on LinkedIn already had friends there. Got it. And who did the writing? You or the person at Forbes and Inc.?
Michael: Yeah, the person usually at Forbes and Inc. would do the writing and they would kind of maybe ask me a few questions and get my feedback.
Andrew: Okay. You also I saw got into GoDaddy. Did that help you on their blog?
Michael: Yeah. So a little spike in sales after that article, the GoDaddy article. That was cool. I have a rep at GoDaddy that kind of landed that for me.
Andrew: And you talk to him? Are you the kind of person who’s schmoozing your way . . . You may not like the word schmooze. But are you the person who just waits and maybe they offer to you, maybe not, or was there something else going on?
Michael: I pursued it.
Andrew: You did.
Michael: Yeah, of course. Like I said, I gain rapport with these people before I asked them to do things for me. Like, I’m respectful like if they’re helping me or if I have an issue I try to be as respectful and nice and possible and appreciate their help even though they’re hired by the company, just show that I appreciate you in any little way, I think goes a long way.
Andrew: How did we get you as a guest here on Mixergy? What happened?
Michael: I sought you out because I was listening to your podcasts and I was like, “Maybe this could be when my first little . . . ”
Andrew: Podcast episodes?
Andrew: Yeah, I’m looking at my notes on you and the thing that the team found to justify it and to say, “Hey, this is a good fit,” is that GoDaddy article.
Michael: That’s awesome.
Michael: That was a long way. So now I’m going to go thank that GoDaddy guy.
Andrew: Yeah. That’s where actually the big name sites really help. It’s not so much that . . . It’s not so much that you get a lot of traffic from them, but it does help with credibility. And as much as I said to my people, “Don’t buy this stuff. We can’t help it.” I keep thinking about Elizabeth Holmes on the cover of Forbes magazine holding a little vial of blood and how much vetting did Forbes really do with her. It turns out that the whole thing was a sham.
Michael: Oh, wow. I don’t know anything about that.
Andrew: I just finished listening to the audiobook about her business Theranos, “Bad Blood.” It starts out kind of slow and almost in the middle of the story but then picks up. It’s amazing. It’s really well written.
All right. Here’s another thing that you did. You told our producer, “Look, creating the right landing page has helped.” What do you mean by that? Helped you grow or get more customers?
Michael: So I would build pages. I’d build links on my actual website that were links to landing pages that matched search keywords in Google. So, like, if you were to search “cool business names” in Google, I would put up a landing page that was called “Cool Business Names,” use the h1 tag, the URL, and then in the tag side include that keyword as well.
Andrew: But then what makes that a landing page versus just a blog post or other content?
Michael: I call that landing page because that’s the keyword I’m targeting and that’s where I want the searcher to land on. It’s not a blog post because it just contains like short tips or whatever on developing a cool business name and it says, “And if you’re looking for one, shop here,” and they’ll kind of clicked on that.
Andrew: You know what I wonder about your site, is a lot of it is “Buy now” versus “Enter your email address.” Why do you go for the sale right away? Like, I mentioned earlier, in Viyo’s [SP] website, there is no place to enter an email address, it’s just “Buy now” or that’s it, right?
Michael: There is a way to inquire on a domain. I don’t know. On the landing page . . .
Andrew: It’s kind of hidden on the very bottom. There’s a big form for it . . . No. There’s a Contact Us, but there’s no ongoing relationship with someone, right? There’s no “Find out about this and other domain names.”
Michael: Yeah, that is something that’s been challenging me to develop relationships with my customers. I don’t want them to just buy the domain and leave. Before even I wanted them . . .
Andrew: [inaudible 00:45:45] just look at it and then realize this is not the right one for me, but never consider any of your other ones.
Andrew: So you don’t even do that.
Michael: Is that not in the landing page where it’s a link to see all domains?
Andrew: It might be, but it’s so hard to find.
Michael: Oh, okay. We’ll just have to improve that. Usually, on landing pages I’ll have “Not finding what you’re looking for? Here’s more domains,” or “Shop all 20,000 plus domains.”
Andrew: Yeah. How big is your email list?
Michael: I haven’t looked recently. I think it’s maybe 10,000 or something like that.
Andrew: Okay. So that’s not something that you really manage.
Michael: Yeah, not too much. I haven’t used too much email marketing. That’s the problem. I manage it, but I haven’t been very proactive.
Andrew: Really? Yeah, I’m checking out your website on BuiltWith to see what you used. I don’t even see an email software listed there. What do you use for email?
Andrew: MailChimp. Usually, that would show up if you use one of their forms, I guess.
Michael: [inaudible 00:46:42] automatic. My site sends out emails automatically through MailChimp so I don’t really have to monitor those.
Andrew: Oh, like an RSS.
Andrew: Mike, that’s not even great marketing.
Michael: I know. That’s my struggle.
Andrew: Those are the worst. They should just disable that feature, but they don’t because they know that that’s an easy way to get people who are not obsessed with marketing to use it.
Michael: Yep. Right. I’ve been pretty terrible at marketing myself. I’ve been doing a lot of inbound marketing, but I’ve been doing a lot of research and reading on like more automated and targeting marketing . . .
Andrew: So what we’re looking at really is a business that’s based on SEO and type-in traffic.
Andrew: And then what’s this? What else? What am I missing?
Michael: I’ve done a lot of AdWords too and a lot of like banner ads on certain websites which have never been very successful.
Michael:So it’s hard to justify spending all that money when I get almost zero sales off those ads. Maybe it brings some of brand awareness and maybe they come back, but so far, SEO has been the only like moneymaker for my business.
Andrew: And social is not very big?
Michael: No. Also because I needed to attract a huge number of people in order to find that one person willing to pay the price on the domains that we sell. We get 8 to 12,000 visitors per day but will sell only anywhere from 1 to 10 domains per day.
Michael: I mean, we’re trying, of course, to grow that, but that’s where we’re at now.
Andrew: Yeah. I’m also hunting you down on SimilarWeb to get a sense of where things are coming from. Sixty-eight percent of your traffic is organic search according to SimilarWeb, 23% is direct type-in traffic according to SimilarWeb. So, yeah, I see what you mean. So it’s SEO and it’s articles and now you’re starting to try this podcasting thing. You’re also adding new things, new products. What’s this common law domain trademark?
Michael: Yeah. That’s something we have now and we introduced this year. We partnered with a company called Cognit [SP] and they do name tracking. Basically, once you use that name, they use a blockchain technology to prove that you used that name first.
Andrew: Oh, because once you use a trademark, it’s yours. You could register the trademark, but as long as you use it, it’s your trademark and what you need is proof that you’ve used it. Am I right about that?
Michael: Yeah, but what Cognit does isn’t an actual Registered Trademark with the USP [inaudible 00:49:03]. They do a common law trademark by just stating that we’re using this first and that actually holds up in court as well. Just showing that you were using it first is sufficient usually.
Andrew: Okay. And so that’s something that you’ve added. That doesn’t seem like something that would really increase prices, right, or get customers?
Michael: It didn’t increase prices, but I think it definitely helped increase customers.
Andrew: Really? Get more customers because it includes this common law trademark?
Michael: Yeah, I think so. I think that’s why we saw a lot of growth this year. That was part of it. I think people want to see a bigger package. I mean, as we go on . . . It sounded weird, but as we go on we want to introduce more to our products, maybe like quick landing pages and stuff like that to go with actual purchase, color palettes, stuff like.
Andrew: Got it. Yeah. And did you from the beginning create . . . Yeah, you did. You always had logos created for the marketplace people, right?
Michael: Yeah. Yeah, there’s always been logos. And then also we redesigned service. So, if you don’t like the logo, we have a redesign service, so we’ll just work . . .
Andrew: Are you using one of the big services to do that for you and plug into them?
Michael: Like who?
Andrew: Like 99designs or there are some that actually will let you plug in with them.
Michael: Oh, no, no. We do it ourselves. It’s mostly all in-house and our designers that were approved on our site, and they’re more than willing to like redesign a logo because they get an award too on a domain sells anywhere from $100 to $500 per logo.
Andrew: Really? So there’s an incentive to make it look good because they get money every time it sells.
Michael: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: What do you use to manage all that to know who gets paid when?
Michael: That’s all through our website, but that’s through the Joomla like platform.
Andrew: You are still on Joomla and Joomla does.
Michael: Yeah. And we definitely want to move away from Joomla, but there’s so much to move over. It’s just been hard to decide when.
Andrew: In the pre-interview you said, “Look, one of the things that I have an issue with is like, where do I spend my money? Who do I trust?” Why did you say that?
Michael: We kind of touched on that. Like, hiring weird, bad developers and stuff like that. Like, SEO guys can be very fishy. You really got to do your research on who you’re hiring. You don’t want blackhat stuff going on, like bad SEO, because then your entire business can like just crumble because of one individual. And I’ve had developers make bad decisions about, like, the way certain things can be coded, not just the h1 tag stuff, but more like the actual infrastructure, the site that can make the entire website fall down and go off-site or offline.
Andrew: All right. Have you bought yourself anything especially good right now? Have you gotten yourself . . . Have you gotten, earned something? Have you gotten to buy something that’s not crazy that makes you feel super proud for having done all this? Buy a car or you buy an iPad?
Michael: Oh, personally?
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. I feel like you had a period there where you said, “You know what? I made this, so I’m going to spend money,” and you didn’t spend it in a responsible way. Are you now getting to take yourself out on vacation? Are you getting to do something especially good?
Michael: Yeah. We’ve been able to do things way more . . . We’ve been able to do things with more freedom, like, since . . .
Andrew: Like what?
Michael: Like we went to Italy. My wife and I when we first got married went to Italy and toured . . . Where else did we go? Yeah, all of Italy. We went to several cities in Italy. And stuff like that. And yeah, right now we’re just saving for a house. I mean, that to me is a treat that we can actually save money. I haven’t . . .
Andrew: You’re still looking for the house?
Michael: Yeah. I haven’t been too irresponsible with money. Well, I’ll buy like a Boosted board and a guitar and stuff like that and nice computers.
Andrew: All right. Nicely done. The website for anyone who wants to go check it out is . . . There it is. It’s brandroot.com. Go check them out. I want to thank my two sponsors. HostGator for hosting websites, hostgator.com/mixergy. If you need to hire a finance person or developer without all the agita of hiring from those other networks, go check out toptal.com/mixergy.
And finally, let me just speak here, toptal.com/mixergy. I think when I was talking about this conference called Fireside, I don’t think I did a great job of talking about who’s over there. And you know what? I’m actually not going to do a great job right now talking about everyone who is over there. I’m going to talk about one person who is there.
A guy named Jason Calacanis who’s been on Mixergy a few times, a guy who creates the podcast, is an angel investor, entrepreneur who’s created a few interesting successful companies. The reason that I’m bringing up one person is because when you’re at freaking Fireside you are at like a campground, hanging out with other people, getting to know them, sleeping in bunks if you want to or off bunks if you don’t want to, hanging out literally by the fireside with other entrepreneurs.
And the fact that Jason Calacanis, this angel investor who’s created a conference for angel investors, who’s angel investor himself and started a few companies, the fact that he and people like him are there means that you’re getting to know them in an intimate place, not just watching them from the stage, but getting to know them, getting to hang out with them, getting to have lunch and whiskey, and I don’t know what with them. That’s a huge, huge opportunity.
If you want to jump on that, here’s a URL where you can get an easier time coming in because they really vet the people who go to this conference. And you’ll see it. When you’re there, you’re going to see these people have really just been vetted. They’re not just people who had money. A lot of great entrepreneurs, a lot of great investors. Go check them out at firesideconf.com/mixergy. I freaking love this conference. I went there, I loved it. Firesideconf.com/mixergy. And I want to thank them. Actually, their sponsorship is over. I just want you guys to know about them.
Cool, Michael. Thanks so much for doing this.
Michael: Thank you so much for this opportunity. I appreciate it.
Andrew: This is one of my first ones on Zoom. I think Zoom is a winner. Skype is dead to me now.
Andrew: Yeah. You use Zoom too at the company?
Michael: No. I’ve never used Zoom. I downloaded the podcast, but I guess I will now.
Andrew: What do you use for your podcast? Skype?
Michael: I don’t think we’re going to do video. It’ll just be audio.
Andrew: And what are you going to use for audio?
Michael: Just plug in my Zoom H1, ironically. A little Zoom H1.
Andrew: Oh, the microphone.
Michael: Yeah, the microphone. I mean, is that what you’re asking?
Andrew: And then you’re going to connect with the guests using what?
Michael: Like iTunes. Is that what you mean?
Andrew: No. You need some way to connect to the guests so you and the guests can . . . Oh, you’re just going to plug into your computer and talk on your own?
Michael: Yeah. Most . . . Oh, yeah, you’re right.
Andrew: Got it. You’re not even going to have a guest. I see. Okay.
Michael: But I might have a guest. I haven’t even thought about that stuff. That’s all in the making. We’re also working that out.
Andrew: All right. Well, if you have a guest, I highly recommend you stay away from Skype. This software was number one for a long time and they’re just quickly dropping the ball. I don’t get it. And one way you could tell that they dropped the ball and they don’t care is I get spam messages from people on Skype. Now, I only have on Skype some of the best technical entrepreneurs on the planet. Really? These are some of the biggest names in tech. If I showed you my Skype, you’d see them.
Andrew: They send out freaking spam because they have malware on their computers. That’s shocking, man. That’s shocking.
Michael: Yeah, it is.
Andrew: Okay. That’s the end of that. Thank you for being here. Thank you all for listening. Bye, everyone.